We the people… – Sembach students write a new world constitution

Story and photos by Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***It wasn’t Independence Hall, and there were no ink bottles to write the words of the U.S. Constitution.

It was seventh grade world geography class at Sembach Middle School and students were imagining how they would write a new world constitution.
Their teacher, Michael Pratt, gave them a scenario: a meteor crashed into earth, leaving only 2,000 survivors. Resources were scarce and survivors included people from all ethnic groups, races and religions. Draft a new constitution, he told them, and make sure you guarantee equal rights to all. The assignment was tied to the Sept. 17 anniversary date of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

So, more than 200 years after 55 delegates met in Philadelphia, SMS students had their own “constitutional convention” Friday where they discussed the constitution and what it should include.

“I thought I could ask them to memorize the preamble, but what would they learn?” Mr. Pratt said. “I thought it would be better if they understood the document and what it took to write it.”

Rewriting the oldest written national constitution wasn’t easy, students said. But, it was fun.

“I learned more about the laws and the articles of the Constitution,” student Tabitha Ensign told her class after her presentation.

And while the framers used pen and ink to write the four-page Constitution, SMS students had a modern-day twist using audio files, memory sticks, audio links and a Smart board to make Power Point, graphic and music presentations. The Department of Defense Dependent Schools-Europe introduced “computers on wheels” last school year for use in math and science classes. This year, Mr. Pratt is also using the COW in his world geography class. The goal of technology is to integrate it into the daily class lessons, meaning that computer class is not a class in and of itself but tools students use for assignments.

Constitution Day

Children across the United States and Department of Defense Dependent Schools celebrated Constitution Day on Monday. This year, officials asked that the preamble be read aloud in classrooms and that it be dedicated to all military personnel.

• For details visit, www.constitutionday.com

• Students, test your knowledge with a quiz about the Constitution at,


The futuristic scenario of a world starting over was meant to help students understand the constitution, with all of its articles and to think about its compromises, Mr. Pratt said.

“One thing to think about is what this document stands for,” Mr. Pratt told the class.

Students started by reading the Constitution. But, they could not merely copy the document, said student Tracy Moore. They had to come up with ideas of their own.

“You had to think about it,” he said.

“We had to change the Constitution,” said student Gerrick Muse, who teamed with Tracy to pen, “The Constituion of the New World,” for their class presentation.

“If we did have to start over in the future, we’d definitely have to stop fighting each other,” Gerrick said.

And so, the students wrote down their ideas ? no leader, work for food rations, strict law enforcement. Student Alyssa Remo, for example, believes the world would be better with no one person named leader.

“It would go well,” she said imagining a future world. “Without a leader, it would mean we are really free.”

There was no wrong answer, Mr. Pratt said, only a chance to understand what the framers must have gone through in the five months they spent meeting daily to revise the Articles of Confederation and then ultimately to write the new document that defines the powers of central government, powers of the states, rights of the people and a process to elect leaders. He encouraged students, after hearing their ideas, to reread the Constituiton to try to understand how the government is set up.

If the world was destroyed and its people had to start over, Alyssa hopes for one thing:

“I hope the world would become great again,” she said.